The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, December 21, 2021 1:00 am

No sign seen of omicron in Allen

But it may be undetected, county health chief says

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Allen County had no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant Monday, but the community's top doctor expected that would soon change given its rapid spread.

It's possible the latest mutation of the coronavirus is already here, undetected because gene sequencing is performed on only a small number of COVID-19 samples, said Dr. Matthew Sutter, county health commissioner.

Federal health officials said Monday omicron is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections last week.

Indiana's first case – from a sample collected Dec. 9 – was announced Sunday.

Details about omicron are limited, Sutter said.

“There are early indications that previous infection is less protective than with previous variants and that the mRNA vaccines with boosters provide some protection,” Sutter said by email. “We continue to urge all eligible Hoosiers to get vaccinated and get booster shots if it's been more than six months since the primary vaccination.”

Individuals as young as 5 are eligible for the vaccine.

As of early Monday, 54.2% of eligible Allen County residents were fully vaccinated, the same as the statewide rate, according to Indiana's vaccination dashboard.

Sutter encouraged people to take precautions with Christmas gatherings.

“If you choose to gather in person, especially with vulnerable people, vaccinations and rapid tests can provide some level of risk reduction,” Sutter said. “When practical, masks can also reduce the risk of spread of the virus.”

Those most at risk are unvaccinated people 65 and older, he said.

Testing through the county is available at 5750 Falls Drive near U.S. 24 and Liberty Mills Road in southwest Fort Wayne. Mindy Waldron, department administrator, recommends making an appointment, although it's not required.

“We will still take walk-ins, but our numbers last week broke all-time records, so it is very hard to predict,” Waldron said by email, noting staffing shortages can contribute to waits.

Tests last week – both rapid and PCR – totaled 1,697, she said.

The county site is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but it will be closed Thursday and Friday for the holiday. Information about testing and vaccination is available at www.allencountyhealth.com.

The health department reported 148 new confirmed COVID-19 infections Monday and no new deaths, bringing totals to 72,387 cases and 914 fatalities.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

asloboda@jg.net

At a glance

Fully vaccinated eligible residents by county

Adams: 11,493 (35.4%)

Allen: 191,283 (54.2%)

DeKalb: 17,164 (42.2%)

Huntington: 16,050 (46.6%)

Kosciusko: 31,133 (41.9%)

LaGrange: 8,465 (23.5%)

Noble: 18,100 (40.6%)

Steuben: 14,984 (45.8%)

Wabash: 12,190 (41.5%)

Wells: 11,242 (42.4%)

Whitley: 14,453 (45.3%)

Source: Indiana Department of Health


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